Federal Judge James Robart of Seattle, who was appointed by George W. Bush in 2003, ruled today that President Trump’s executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries would be stopped nationwide with immediate effect. In a statement following the development, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said, “The Constitution prevailed today,” adding in a statement, “No one is above the law — not even the President.”
 
"It's our president's duty to honor this ruling and I'll make sure he does," Ferguson said. He is a Democrat. According to Reuters, Washington State Solicitor General Noah Purcell proclaimed, "It's a wonderful day for the rule of law in this country."
 
Judge Robart’s ruling, which came following a request by the states of Minnesota and Washington, is the most sweeping such decision regarding Trump’s executive order made to date. Airlines are already transporting those who were blocked from flying to the US due to the order. The White House said they are seeking an emergency stay of the judge's ruling.
 

Targeting Muslims

Ferguson filed suit on January 30, just days after the president signed off on the executive order. He argued that the ban targeted persons on the basis of their Muslim faith and also violated the constitutional rights of immigrants. Attorneys for the Trump administration responded that the states lack standing to sue the federal government on the issue and that the order was Trump’s prerogative. 
 
The judge dismissed the Trump administration’s argument and ruled that the states had suffered harm because of the travel restrictions. Robart also claimed that a challenge to the legality of the order may well succeed in the courts.
 
Signed on January 27, Trump’s executive order prohibited nationals from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia from entering the US for 90 days, while it also indefinitely suspended resettlement for refugees from Syria. The order stirred up controversy among progressives who flocked to international airports around the country to register their protests. 
 
The president has argued that the move was justified for the sake of national security.
 
A lawyer for the Justice Department said today in a Virginia court that more than 100,000 visas were revoked under Trump's order, despite it being temporary. The State Department declared, however, that the number was less than 60,000.
 

No religious discrimination here

Also, today a federal judge made a contradictory ruling on the executive order. Judge Nathaniel Gorton, an appointee of George H.W. Bush administration, refused to extend a temporary restraining order which temporarily stopped a portion of Trump’s executive order. The temporary restraining order which was set to expire on February 5. This was the first victory for the Trump administration regarding its immigrant ban. 
 
Despite an argument by the ACLU that the president’s executive order violated the Establishment Cause of the Constitution because it supposedly favors Christians over Muslim, the judge ruled that nowhere in the order is there anything that “compels a finding that Christians are preferred to any other group.”
 
Moreover, Judge Gorton ruled that the plaintiffs did not have proper standing. He wrote, “Plaintiffs are not, however, refugees seeking admission to the United States and consequently, any future implementation of Section 5 (b) would not personally affect them.” He determined that while the Fifth Amendment protests against ““invidious discrimination by the Federal government” against aliens, there is a difference between the constitutional rights enjoyed by aliens who are in the U.S. and those who are outside. 
 
 “The decision to prevent aliens from entering the country is a ‘fundamental sovereign attribute’ realized through the legislative and executive branches that is largely immune from judicial control,” the judge wrote. The judge thus found that the president has the right to take action on immigration without judicial interference. 
 
The ACLU was representing Iranian nationals and legal permanent residents Mazdak Pourabdollah Tootkaboni and Arghavan Louhghalam, who teach at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. Gorton determined that because the Trump administration had stated that the order did not apply to lawful permanent residents, the claims by the professors are now moot.


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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